Take my yoke upon you and learn from me.Matthew 11: 28
The INFANT JESUS is sweet faced and richly clad. He offers me a Cross. It is my very own. No one else’s is just like it. I reach for it. He hands it to me. Clinging to my Cross, I can live in his goodness. He directs me to love God and love others as myself. In Jesus, I am confident when I go to the abortuary sidewalk. God is on our side, and theirs.
Abide in the home of the divine and fatherly goodness of God like his child who knows nothing, does nothing, makes a mess of everything, but nevertheless lives in his goodness. Saint Peter Julian Eymard (+1868). Magnificat October 2021.
In 2013, Pastor David Goudy, Moira Pentecostal Church, Ireland, interviewed Steph Macleod, Scottish singer, musician and composer. The INTERVIEW series examines the lives of people who have had a life changing encounter with God.
In 2005, alcohol and drug addiction had taken me from every good thing in my life. I chose to be homeless. It was a place where I could feed my habits in peace. I didn’t see it from the point of view of my family who were beside themselves.
Once I pawned what I had, I begged for money. I spent years borrowing money and not paying it back. I swindled thousands of pounds from my Mum and Dad. It was a 24-hour job being an addict. I got chucked out of homeless hostels. I slept rough. I slept in burnt out cars. Winter was the worst part. I could have been home in a warm bed on the condition that I was clean. But I just didn’t want to do it.
What precipitated this? It wasn’t an overnight thing. My Mum and Dad separated when I was a teenager. My Mum got quite sick. It was a real change from the security of family life. By the time I was seventeen I was in underground nightclubs two to three times a week, taking Class A drugs, going to parties until 7 in the morning, then going to school. I thought I was the man. This attitude just got worse. I lost most of my friends at school.
At college I studied classical guitar. My parents reconciled to try to help me. Substance abuse started to ruin my life. I had a breakdown. “You suffer from major depression as a result of the alcohol and drugs. And you are an alcoholic. You need to stop.” I couldn’t. I decided that I could not drink in peace around my family. I left.
I found a homeless hostel run by the Bethany Christian Trust. It was for men with addiction. Their course is Christ centered. The “God stuff” was never relevant to me as an addict or homeless person. They tell you that it is a dry house before you go in. I moved in. By that point I desperately wanted to stop. My life was in turmoil. People around me were dying.
About 8 weeks in, I heard a guy give his testimony. He was a church minister. Before that he had been a man with a life of turmoil. He’d had addiction issues. He’d been a violent man. He’d been in prison. Being an addict was like being a prisoner, but without any walls. He spoke about freedom as a Christian, freedom in Christ. You speak to any person about freedom and you are going to get their attention. He spoke about God giving him the strength to break the chains that had been killing him. He spoke about the courage to start living the life he was supposed to. I needed that.
He asked if anybody wanted to ask God into their lives. I went forward. I can remember it. I was terrified. I know when I prayed to God I said, “If you can hear me (this was a real step of faith because I spent so much time alone) I am sorry for the man I am. I just want a life worth living.” A real sense of peace washed over me. It was quite supernatural. And I’m probably the most skeptical Christian you’ll ever meet in your life.
Addiction doesn’t come without shame about the things you do and the choices you make. I did things to my friends and family – everybody – not just one or two people. I didn’t realize how heavy the weight was – of the fear and the anger and the loathing and all that – until it felt like it was lifted. It was the weight of the burden I’d been carrying around for 10 years.
It was just like a release. The kind of peace like when you’re a kid and the only thing you really need to worry about is who is on goal. I hadn’t felt that as an adult – ever. It wasn’t like my problems were solved. But for the first time in my life, I wasn’t looking in at myself. I was looking out to something else, which I didn’t understand. It was a big paradigm shift.
The guy giving his testimony said there will be things that are too tough for you to deal with. You need to take them to God. I trusted and prayed. My prayers were answered. I found great strength in that. I did a lot of counseling with the people at Bethany. I was still homeless. I had one change of clothes. I had no friends, no contact with my family, no money. Bethany helped me address these things. I moved forward.
I said to God, “You’re going to have to help me with this.” I apologized to my Mum and Dad. My Dad didn’t even let me apologize. He just said, “It’s all right.” It didn’t matter because I was “his son.” I’m married now with three kids. The last seven years have not been easy. I think being a Christian is really difficult. I’ve lived more with Christ in my life than I ever thought I ever possibly could. I shouldn’t even be alive today.
I draw inspiration for my music from the impact that Christ had on my recovery. The Crucifixion is a word that can lose its weight because we use it a lot. I spent a year trying to realize the reality of it. “The Interview” (Episode One) – Steph Macleod
Steph Macleod – When I Found Jesus (Official Acoustic Video)
DEE GATHERS OUR FUEL
The Carmelites of Latrobe, the Sisters of Saint Joseph, the Passionist Nuns. These consecrated women pray for us every day.
NOTES FROM THE SIDEWALK
JEN McD. SHIFT MANAGER 7-9
Grateful for a warm morning on the sidewalk with only a few passing sprinkles of rain. Even better than the gentle weather was the faithful, prayerful fellowship of Diane, Tom, Bill, Rich, George, Pat, and Ken. We heard a few stories about the so-called “reproductive rights rally” that was held downtown yesterday. May God open hearts and minds to know that the RIGHT TO LIFE supersedes all others!
Jen, Vince, Pat, Rich and George
KEN B. SHIFT MANAGER 9-11
A quiet Sunday on the sidewalk. The previous shift led by Jen and Vince are always in prayer when I arrive. Pictured are Jen, Vince, Pat who stayed with me for the entire two hours, Rich and George. We also had a few rosary walkers who stopped to pray with us. Rich and Rosanne arrived early for the next shift as usual.
Rosary walkers stopped to pray with us.
RICH and ROSEANN K. SHIFT MANAGERS 11-1
We arrived a little early and immediately jumped in on the Divine Mercy which Ken and Pat had already started. Nadine volunteered to witness and pray with us for our 2 hours. It was a quiet shift with no negative comments. Then Katie came early for the next shift and a man was walking (or hardly walking) because he must have been high on something.
He was weaving back and forth on the sidewalk and bumped into the display but fortunately did not knock it over. We just needed to straighten a couple legs of the table which were tilted. Katie reported him to the police because he wandered into the street and we were afraid he might get hit with a car.
Roseann, Rich, Nadine
PAT M. SHIFT MANAGER 1-3
Today I was joined by the faithful members of St. Michael the Archangel parish, which was especially nice for me because I knew most of the participants (Katie, Filene, and Sharon & Bud). And when this group began to pray, I found that I really liked the way they stood to pray facing the doors from the top of the circle. It seemed more direct to me and made it a little easier to focus on our purpose for being there.
From the start of my drive from home to PP, I just wasn’t feeling well. And while I hoped that the discomfort would dissipate, it never did. Fortunately for me I was with a well experienced and veteran group and, therefore, felt comfortable enough handing things over to them – and Katie in particular – at about 1:45. Bud said that they would pray for me and I really appreciated that because I’m feeling much better now. Thanks, everybody.
Katie, Filene, and Sharon & Bud, and parishioners of Saint Michael the Archangel
JOE W. SHIFT MANAGER 3-5
Peaceful shift at the house of death. Omer, a Catholic from Cameroon, Africa, stopped by and chatted joyfully about his Church in Africa. Sharing pictures and videos we had fun. Explaining to him what goes on in the mill was hard for him to comprehend.
Peace of the Lord be to all.
Omer, a Catholic from Cameroon, Africa
Katie with fellow members of Saint Michael the Archangel Parish
DENISE M. SHIFT BUDDY 5-7
Quiet and prayerful shift on sidewalk this evening . Wanted to share a reflection: my husband Steve and I attended a funeral mass for a Down’s syndrome stillborn baby boy, Jude Gabriel last week. The church was full of friends and family supporting Jude’s grieving parents and siblings. I was struck by the dichotomy of this unborn child whose birth was longed for and anticipated and the anguish of his parents and family at his death and the callousness towards their unborn children of the mothers and fathers we encounter in front of Planned Parenthood. Little Jude was mourned profoundly while the little ones who are aborted at PP are discarded. Please keep Jude Gabriel’s family in your prayers as they grieve their beloved son. May we also ask beloved Jude Gabriel to intercede for his unborn brothers and sisters in the womb and their parents that the Lord would soften the hearts of these parents to accept this gift of life.
And God saw that it was good.
4 thoughts on “DAY 12: Thank you, Saint Michael the Archangel Parish; SHIFT BUDDIES Vince P., Jim and Cathy S., Steve and Denise M.; VOLUNTEERS George S., Rich D., Pat S., Nadine U.; FUEL The Passionist Nuns, The Sisters of Saint Joseph, The Carmelites Nuns of Latrobe; and all of you who are praying, fasting and witnessing with us this fall.”
I forgot I wanted to submit for the blog something we experienced after Pat left. A man in a Jerome Bettis jersey pulled up, got out of his car, and thanked us all for being there, shaking many of our hands. His name is Matthew and he’s from South Carolina. We encouraged him to find his nearest campaign and participate when he gets home!
Was his last name Lackey? And did he use to live in Pittsburgh? If so, he was my neighbor from childhood. A good man.
He didn’t say his last name, but he grew up near Pittsburgh. I can’t remember where but I have the impression in my memory that it was sort of farther away.
Thank you to Andy for his prayerful witness this evening